The inaugural Welsh Wheelchair Invitational League is set to kick-off this summer, when expansive gameplay with an emphasis on game development, awaits the new fans of the game who enjoyed last year’s Rugby League World Cup.
Following a standard league format, but three points will be awarded for a win and one for a draw, which will add an extra dimension to domestic wheelchair rugby league.
With the Rugby Football League’s wheelchair competitions due to come to a close in July, this additional tournament will provide fans, prospective players, clubs and officials an opportunity to get a taste of the sport.
In addition to this being the first chance to see multiple Welsh domestic sides compete in the same division, the Wales Wheelchair Invitational League will mark the competitive debut of Wales’ newest domestic side, Cardiff Blue Dragons. They will join fellow Welsh clubs, North Wales Crusaders and Torfaen Tigers in what will be a five-team competition.
Non-Welsh sides will also be competing in the league to increase the numbers. These clubs will be announced in the near future.
All games will be played over 80 minutes as per normal and will follow the standard player ratio of a maximum of two non-disabled players from the five who are on the pitch at one time. Club will be able to name an unlimited squad size, but with just one active international player able to play in each side. Each team will have an unlimited number of interchanges on game day.
The final league table will see each side having played four games each, and the top two clubs with the most points will meet in the official Grand Final.
The top two Welsh sides will also battle in a match to win the “Cwpan Silians Cadair Olwyn”. This will be the second year of this game, with North Wales Crusaders having beaten Torfaen Tigers in 2022.
Alana Sargent, Cardiff Blue Dragons coach, said: “We are excited to be playing in the first Welsh Invitational League for Wheelchair RL this season. Doing so in our first competitive season as a club is a huge milestone and will no doubt be a learning curve for us as a team. This will allow us to continue to grow and develop for the future, not just as a club but for the sport as a whole in Wales.”
Gary Taylor, the North Wales Crusaders coach, said: “I think this is a great idea to promote our sport in Wales. It will help develop our sport with long term goals for developing players for the Welsh national team.”
Anthony Pennell, Torfaen Tigers coach, said: “We play this sport because you never know what you’re capable of. The strength of our team is each individual player, coach and volunteer and we are stronger together than alone.”
Stephen Jones – Development Officer for Wales, said: “This is the next step in the development of our sport in Wales, and one of the biggest since I became involved in the sport since 2013 as a player and then as part of the national set up since 2014.
“This is a huge step in developing not only the ability of teams, players, coaches and match officials but also the overall infrastructure of the sport in our nation. It’s a great opportunity for not only players and teams to develop, but also coaches and match officials, as this is aimed to provide a platform for all those involved in the sport.”